Saturday, November 3, 2012

Year B - Proper 29, Reign of Christ or Christ the King (November 25, 2012)

V In the US it is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Many worship regulars will be traveling home from family trips or still hosting leftover relatives before those folks depart.  Some will be basking in happy memories.  Others will be deeply hurt and disappointed by what went on or didn’t go on.  Everyone will be taking a deep breath and mentally turning the corner toward Advent and Christmas.  Children share in all of this.  So, remember all these concerns in the church's prayers if nowhere else in the worship. 

V It is also the Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday.  I know the “Reign of Christ” is preferred because it de-emphasizes triumphalism and monarchical power.  But, “Christ the King” makes more immediate sense to children.  For one thing non-readers hear “RAIN of Christ” when you say “REIGN of Christ.”  So at the very least point that out so children know it is really “Rule of Christ” Sunday rather than a weather forecast.  Go to Year C - Reign of Christ for an article about how children think about kings.

V Review the entire church year by bringing out all the paraments – or maybe all your stoles – for the seasons of the church year.  Drape stoles around your shoulders or across the Table as you recall each season, naming something you do in worship during that season, and the basic story about Jesus that goes with that season

V Reign of Christ Sunday is a good day to highlight the section of the Apostles’ Creed about Jesus.  Direct worshipers to turn to it in their hymnals or printed order of worship.  Point to the section that tells the whole life of Jesus.  Read each phrase taking time to briefly elaborate on it.  Then, invite the whole congregation to say or read it together.  This could be done with the whole congregation or as a children’s time.  Below are some notes to help explain the phrases for children.

“conceived by the Holy Spirit”

Jesus was God’s son.  Another creed says, “Jesus was born was born of woman as is every child, yet born of God’s power as was no other child.”  (A Declaration of Faith, PCUSA)

“born of the Virgin Mary”

Recall the birth in the barn.  For most children “Virgin Mary” is simply Mary’s name.  I’d not deal with questions of the Virgin birth here.

“suffered under Pontius Pilate”

Point out that the creed skips a big chunk of Jesus life.  Together list some of the things Jesus did – teach, heal, make friends, feed the crowd, tell stories.  Then, note that Jesus made enemies who arrested him and turned him over to Pontius Pilate who condemned him to death.

“was crucified, dead and buried”

Briefly recall Jesus being killed on the cross and buried in a cave tomb.

“he descended into hell”

If you include this phrase, for children it simply means that Jesus died, really died and was quite dead for three days.

“The third day he arose from the dead”

Retell the empty tomb story.

“and ascended to heaven.  From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead”

This answers the question “where is Jesus now?”  He is in heaven.  From heaven he rules and judges the world.  One day heaven and earth will be one and Jesus will rule both the quick (the living – like us) and the dead.

V On the last day of the church year, highlight the last phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen”  Before praying the prayer or just after praying it, point to this phrase.  Connect it to Christ the King who rules the whole world.  Note that the power of Christ the King is the power of love rather than the power of armies or force.  And, delight in the glory of a world ruled by such a God/Christ.  If there is time, remind worshipers that AMEN means “I say so” or “I agree with this” or “count me in.”  When we say the phrase at the end of the prayer every Sunday, but especially today we are saying, “I belong to Christ who is the King of the world.”  Then invite worshipers to pray the whole pray together or pray it again.

V In the DVD “Chariots of Fire,”  British Olympic athlete Eric Liddell must decide whether to run an Olympic race for which he has trained hard on Sunday.  He believes racing on that day would be breaking the third commandment about keeping the Sabbath.  There is a scene in which he must meet with the Prince and the Olympic Committee and is challenged to obey the Prince rather than God.  Showing that scene gives everyone a very understandable example about choosing whom you will serve and obey.


Texts for Today

2 Samuel 23:1-7

V Children need help to hear David’s comparison of good and bad kings.  Before reading the whole passage, read his description of a good king in verses 3b-4 and a bad king in verses 6 and 7.  Clarify the differences.  If you are sitting with the children to do this, list together your own ideas about what makes for a good and a bad king.  Then, read verse 5 asking whether David thought he was a good king or a bad king.  Only then, read the whole passage in its biblical order.

Psalm 132:1-12 (13-18)

V To understand this psalm readers have to know stories about David that almost no children and few adults know.  On a day with so much else going on, I’d not try to tell and connect all these unknown stories. 

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

V This vivid apocalyptic picture is meant to be experienced not explained.  Invite worshipers to close their eyes and see with their imaginations what they are hearing as the verses are read.  Challenge children to draw what they see.  Even provide paper printed with the verses for the children to illustrate.  Together explore such questions as:
Is God powerful or weak?
How important is God?
Why do you think there is fire around the throne?
      (no right answer to this)
What does the poet want us to know about God?

Psalm 93

V Psalm 93 celebrates God who is more powerful than the flood waters or the sea surf. That plays in these weeks after Hurricane Sandy!   If you have a sound team, work with them to produce a recording of powerful water sounds to play as the congregation reads the psalm aloud – loudly to be heard over the recording.

        Verses 1,2,5     any water sounds
        Verse 3             rushing water sounds (flood or big waterfall)
        Verse 4             heavy surf sounds

Revelation 1:4b-8

Alpha and Omega, from Art in the Christian Tradition,
a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
[retrieved November 2, 2012].
V Alpha and Omega – again!  It has showed up in many of the recent readings.  If you haven’t featured it yet, here is another chance.  Bring out any paraments that include it.  Point it out wherever it appears in your sanctuary.  Compare the first and last letters in several different alphabets.  And, celebrate Christ who was before anything else was and will still be when everything else is over.

V On a seminary sponsored podcast a group of professors talked about how many times they had to see “The Wizard of Oz” before they could stay in the room for the scary parts.  Only seeing the ending multiple times finally enabled them to face the scary parts on the way to that ending.  I suspect this is a common experience and a good way to share this passage with children.  We need to tell them that at the end God will be in full control and everything will be “right” and that knowing that helps us work through the rough times before the ending. 

V If you have been working through Hebrews with all the priesthood talk, keep the  big poster out today.  Jesus is still Lord! and in verse 6 insists that we are called to priests with him.  We are to pray for and sacrifice for others as Jesus did for us.  We are to join him in caring for the people of the world.

John 18:33-37

Ge, N. N. (Nikolań≠ Nikolaevich), 1831-1894.
"What is truth?" Christ and Pilate,
from Art in the Christian Tradition,
a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
[retrieved November 2, 2012].
V Display this painting of Christ before Pilate.  (Download it free from Vanderbilt Divinity School Library to use with the attribution.)  Ask

Who looks like a king here?  Why do you think that? 

Who does not look like a king?  Why do you think that? 

Then, name Pilate briefly identifying him and Jesus.  That leads to discussion of who is really the king?  Finally ask “What do we learn about King Jesus from this painting.”

V If this text is going to lead you to explore Holy Week themes, display two crowns: a crown of thorns and a costume kings crown.  Talk about who wears each of the crowns and how they are different.  Note which crown Jesus chose to wear.

V For most children truth is the opposite of lie.  That is not the case in Jesus’ discussion with Pilate.  In this discussion truth is “what is the most important thing in the world.”  Pilate was not sure what the most important thing in the world was.  He only knew he had to do his job as Rome’s governor and that he’d get in trouble if he did not do it well.  Jesus knew that the most important thing in the world is love.  Everything he did he did because of love.  Even older children will have a hard time thinking about truth in that way.  But, if you are going to talk at some length about truth, you might want to introduce this new definition of truth to them.


  1. Carolyn - just a note to let you know that I so appreciate your work. I've used your books for years and now love the convenience of your FB and blog. Thank you so much for this ministry to all of us!!!

  2. I wanted to do an end of the year review with our children (similar to secular practices before New Year's). I love the suggestion about the stoles and paraments. It is a great chance to connect the church year to our worship space. The painting is also very powerful. Thank you so much!!!!!

    1. I agree. Its a stole display today. I also brought all the markers for the Church's Liturgy book to the front for a little quizzing.

  3. Was searching around for an idea and using the picture was just what I was looking for - thanks very much.


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